Caroline Flack’s mother has criticised ITV over its handling of the departure of presenter Phillip Schofield, saying the broadcaster had failed to learn lessons from the death of her daughter.
Presenters are not always protected, Christine Flack, whose daughter fronted ITV’s Love Island, told BBC Newsnight.
Ex-This Morning host Schofield has apologised for lying about an affair and said he had “lost everything”.
ITV says it feels “badly let down” by him and takes “duty of care seriously”.
Accusing the broadcaster of treating employees as “commodities”, Christine told Newsnight that presenters are “people” but are sometimes “sidelined, not protected”.
She also appeared to question ITV’s aftercare, saying: “They could have someone speaking for him really, whether he did right or wrong…. it’s not a good look really.”
She stood down from hosting the hugely-popular Love Island in December 2019 after being charged with assault by beating.
A coroner later ruled she took her own life – a day after learning that prosecutors were going to press ahead with the assault charge after an incident involving her boyfriend Lewis Burton.
Christine believes ITV “haven’t learned anything” since the death of her daughter.
She told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire: “If my employer didn’t take care of me, there’d be all hell to pay. And there’s not.”
Christine said Schofield and his former lover were going through an “awful time” and urged them not to do “anything silly”.
Schofield gave his first interviews this week, after admitting to lying about having an affair with a younger male colleague.
Asked how he was, and after a long pause, the TV presenter told the BBC’s Amol Rajan: “I think I understand how Caroline Flack felt.”
Christine told the BBC that Schofield “knew Caroline” and when she died, “he was very upset”.
“I think he’s now realising even more what she went through,” Christine said. “But until it happens to you, you feel sad but you don’t understand.”
Schofield told the BBC that the fallout in the media had been “relentless”, which Christine said was “exactly” how her daughter Caroline had felt.
“Every day she would try to be a bit stronger, which I should imagine Phillip is [doing],” she said.
The problem is, she continued: “You get more and more thrown at you”.
Imploring people to let the situation “settle”, she said Schofield had “lost his job” and “his world”, adding: “I think that’s enough. I think that’s enough for anybody.”
In a statement, ITV said: “The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust. Phillip made assurances to us and his agency which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.
“As a producer and broadcaster, ITV takes its responsibilities around duty of care seriously and has robust and well-established processes in place to support the mental and physical health of employees and all those we work with.”
ITV has already ordered an external review into its handling of the relationship between Schofield and his colleague.
Speaking to Newsnight, former ITV’s News executive Lis Howell said it was not just an issue with the channel.
“It’s a problem across the entertainment sector,” she said.
“It’s also a problem as regards to the tabloid press. They are very responsible in many cases for making people’s lives a misery, and of course there is social media. So let’s not just pretend, it’s ITV, because it’s not.”
Schofield, who came out as gay in 2020, also said he believed homophobia had fuelled the media coverage surrounding his extra-marital affair.
He said revelations about a similar heterosexual relationship would have been treated as “nudge nudge, wink wink” but “if it’s a gay relationship, then suddenly it raises eyebrows”.
He continued: “People do find each other attractive in different age groups, I mean it does happen… I appreciate it’s the workplace and the history, and I get that – but the fact it is so massive is predominantly homophobia.”
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The former This Morning presenter speaks about his affair and the subsequent fall out, with the BBC’s Amol Rajan.
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